Gotham: Scarification – Firefly Gets a Gender Change

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Gotham: Scarification features a gender changed Firefly, taking a page from Marvel’s decisions to change up the guys and gals with a female Thor…Of course the televised version of the DC verse sans a grown up Bruce Wayne and a Jim Gordon who is considerably younger than, say, Gary Oldman’s police commissioner has given viewers a number of origin scenarios.

That said, not all origin tales are true or meant to be taken literally. Just as The Joker was introduced via Jerome Valeska and Heller just yanked the future jokester with the big grin right out of the equation. Granted, it was an effective way to show just how far new character, in the television verse of Gotham, Theo Galavan was prepared to go in his quest for revenge.

Now seems a good moment to discuss Theo and sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas as sis just kills it, that great combination of sexy sultry vixen with deadly psychopathic killer tendencies is an epic win.)  These two had some brilliant interactions in this episode.

Tabitha  complaining that  she was bored, and brother dear retorting that she has plenty to do. A parent chiding a child who complains that they have nothing to do. In the same scene, after she complains that Kean sleeps too long is is “crazy” Theo takes off his “daddy” hat and protests that the crazy bit is what makes Kean so much fun.

Most telling is when the audience is spared the sight of Tabitha taking Bunderslaw’s eye but Theo watches it all and the “master criminal” looks decidedly ill.

Thus far, all of the good guys are boring, most probably because they are not Batman; with his long list of issues including the murder of his parents that will not reach fruition till the young “Master Bruce” grows up.  Alfred is there to provide a bit of color and break a few heads (and slap a young Cat Woman, aka Selina Kyle).

Back to the Scarification episode, the Penguin is losing his grip on whatever passes for normal in his “I’m the King of Gotham” brain. After meeting the expository antique queen, Edwige the “bird man” (great line from Tabitha) decides that the Dumas tale of Wayne ancestors chopping off the hand of a transgressing Dumas relative,  Penguin opts to chop off Butch’s hand.

*Sidenote* The punishment of removing the hand of Caleb does make one wonder what sort of “illicit” embrace the two were caught in? Where was Caleb’s hand?  Celestine was not telling anyone but…the fact that she died an “old maid” spinster speaks volumes…

One note of complaint has to be played here. The flashback was odd to say the least. With all the participants in the sepia memory having some pretty “punk” version of old fashioned hairstyles. Considering that these “mod” do’s needed styling wax, someone made a boo-boo here. Just saying.

Still, this is Gotham. The only place in the world where one can buy weapons and all things connected to murder and mayhem in a giant Home Depot type of store, The Merc.   While this was amusing, the gag about the Firefly “brother” exploding when Gordon shoots him was funnier, albeit a cinematic joke that has been almost, pardon the pun, done to death.

The newly formed GCPD Strike Force suffers its first fatality, Luke Garrett, much to the consternation of Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) who vows to make the “cop killer” who killed his man pay.

Jim Gordon proves that his ability to read people is way off when he offers to support Theo Galavan for mayor.  The mayoral candidate and former Dumas gets a visit from Father Creel, a robed figure who is obviously from the punishment cult that the old Dumas transgressor, aka that young man who could not keep his hand to himself (Boom Boom), Caleb, was banished to.

It now appears that the old chap in the robe is promising a legion of more old chaps in robes who are about to lay waste to Gotham. (Fair enough, these traveling monks may not all be old, but that was the vision that sprang to mind when watching the end of Scarification.)

The change of Firefly to domestically abused gal pal of Selina Kyle is interesting as a sort of skewed Cinderella tale sans mice and the further Cat Woman as Fairy Godmother. The main difference being that Bridgit Pike (Michelle Veintimilla) makes ashes and does not sweep them. 

Still, as those who take Gotham far too seriously would point out, in this Batman-less verse this is Bruno Heller’s vision and not necessarily a mirror image of DC’s Gotham.   In Bruno’s world, if you are a good guy, it essentially “sucks to be you.” The villains all have a lot of fun, get the best lines and have access to the prettiest women…except for Ben McKenzie’s gal on, and off, the show Morena Baccarin

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Thinking about it, Jim Gordon had access to Barbara Kean as well, and crazy or not, this sleeping beauty is lovely to look at but, after the evil Jason Lennon got done with her,  dangerous to hold. After the “death” of Jerome, whom I am still hoping pops up like an evil “clown” from a kid’s crank toy, it seems the best way to take Gotham is with a huge grain of salt. Blood pressure be damned.

This verse is all pre-pre-Batman. With origins to be played with and varied up until  Heller’s verse only faintly resembles the real DC tales of this darker than dark city called Gotham. The series airs Mondays on FOX. Tune in and enjoy the alternative version of a DC favorite.

Gotham: Knock Knock – Monsters Are Coming…They’re Here (Review)

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Season two of Gotham continues to go darker and episode two, Knock Knock gives us the Maniax (!) run by Jerone, the soon to be Joker. The episode was a brilliant mix of horror, dark humor, pathos and some tear-inducing bonding moments between Alfred and Bruce. Last week’s season opening set up the “new” Gotham City PD and this episode shot it to pieces.

Literally.

In short order, the Maniax explode into the news in Gotham and create havoc. A group of victims thrown off the roof of the newspaper building, a school bus full of cheerleaders doused in gasoline and almost set on fire and the Gotham police department shot to rag doll ribbons by Jerome and the rest of the Maniax, sans Barbara ensures some massive media coverage.

Away from the death and mayhem going on in the city, Alfred and young Bruce have a massive falling out after the butler busts up the computer in the secret office. Wayne fires Alfred, although they do later reconcile and things shift between the two. Pennyworth will now train Bruce, in earnest, and he must also repair the computer.

Once Wayne and Alfred “make up” the butler then convinces Bruce to put him in charge. Pennyworth then approaches Lucius Fox, first to warn him, then to request that the man fix the broken computer.

*Sidenote* The bar scene contained the most awkward sounding dialogue ever to come from actor Sean Pertwee. The whole “tuck you up like a kipper” scene sounded stilted and, to be honest, is not a phrase heard by this reviewer once in over 32 years in England. Whoever came up with this whole scene should do their homework on how former soldiers actually talk. Just saying…me old sausage.

After Lucius and Alfred reach an understanding, the butler buys a drink for Mr. Fox (Chris Chalk) and the bartender, a touch of jolly old English “pub etiquette.”

Nygma continues his transition into The Riddler and while his two halves fight for control, he is still in love with Kristen (Chelsea Spack).  Later he manages to impress Miss Kringle by saving her life in the Gotham City Police Department massacre.

Jerome (played with gleeful gusto by Cameron Monaghan, who appears to be channeling all of the prior screen jokers into his version of the  wonderfully catchy criminal) gets all the best lines of the show, and some of the best (blackly) comic moments.

The moment on the school bus where Jerome “leads” the cheerleaders in a very short chant:

“Give me an O.”

Jerome fires his gun.

“I said, give me an O.”

“O”

“Give me an N.”

“N?”

“Give me another O.”

“What does that spell?”

Jerome starts spraying gas all over the bus, “Oh No!”

The little question on “N” is comedic magic, albeit very dark comedic magic.

Knock Knock gives us an insight on many characters. The almost orgasmic  interest in the Russian Roulette scene by Theo Galavan (James Frain), Barbara’s sense of sadism (who knew that Erin Richards could be so much more fun as “Bad Barbara?”), Harvey’s realization that he really is a cop regardless of what he tells himself.

Overall, the dark humor  in this episode was well done:  Tabitha and Barbara are whipping the Mayor (who still has the “box” over his head) with cat-o-nine tail whips. They run him into a wall and he falls down and lays still. After telling the girls to leave the “poor mayor along” Galavan continues.

Theo: “You haven’t killed him have you?”

Tabitha: “No I don’t think so.”

She hits the prone mayor on the stomach with her whip and he groans.

Tabitha: “Nope, hanging in there.”

Season two is rolling out the mythos of Gotham nicely. On top of all the infamous baddies and their origin stories,  the series is setting up the Pennyworth/Wayne dynamic beautifully.  It may be a little schmaltzy but these two performers, Pertwee and young David Mazouz have a great chemistry together and do feel a little like surrogate father and son.

The death of Essen was grim, but what a fighter! Her seated head-butt to Jerome was worth a cheer and then she tops it with the “That’s gonna leave a mark” quip.  Major kudos to actress Zabryna Guevara who just  killed it in her scene with the future Joker. Effortlessly. 

By  the time end credits rolled, Kringle  brought Nygma an aspirin, Bullock  put back on the badge and gun, the Maniax are down by two and Jerome has his first public broadcast. As the madman says, “Hang on to your hats folks cause you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX, miss this and miss some of the darkest  and exciting  television on offer.